Kalahari reserve unlocks secret of why bird teamwork makes the dream work

Twelve years of research in SA's largest private game reserve has solved the mystery of why cooperation between birds is a notable feature of the world's most unpredictable environments.

2021-09-25 02:28:00 PM

Twelve years of research in SA's largest private game reserve has solved the mystery of why cooperation between birds is a notable feature of the world's most unpredictable environments.

Twelve years of research in SA's largest private game reserve has solved the mystery of why cooperation between birds is a notable feature of the world's most unpredictable environments.

“Instead, co-operation reduces reproductive variation, helping the birds cope with their unpredictable environment.“Bet-hedging strategies like this are all about reducing the risk of total failure when you can’t predict what is going to happen.“Our findings suggest that co-operation may serve that purpose — it allows sparrow weaver families to enjoy some breeding success whatever rainfall conditions they experience.”

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The findings also offer clues about how bird species might adapt in the future.Young said: “Co-operatively breeding species — those that live in societies with helpers — may be better placed to cope with unpredictable environments, which we expect to become increasingly common under climate change.”

The study found that female helpers were more co-operative - feeding chicks more - than male helpers.“It is specifically the number of female helpers that affects a family’s ability to cope with unpredictable rainfall conditions; the number of male helpers is less important,” Young said. headtopics.com

“This observation allows us to be more confident that having more helpers — rather than simply living in bigger groups — is the cause of the effects we witnessed.”Tswalu has the largest population of black rhino and is also home to threatened species such as the pangolin and canid African wild dog.

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